That’s more like it.
Totally dissatisfied with my last visit to the cinema, I had to go to something better. This adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s novel continues the Scandinavian takeover of all that is cool in the fictional crime world at the moment, and it’s really good fun.
The plot centres around a recruitment agency headhunter and part-time not so petty art thief Roger (Aksel Hennie), who raids the homes of the wealthy to keep his stunningly beautiful and statuesque artist wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) in the lifestyle he thinks she demands. Manipulated by a handsome and sleazy technology executive Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), he finds himself pursued across Norway and fighting for his life before, inevitably, turning the tables on his tormentor.
Hennie is great, a control freak who, as soon as he becomes controlled by others, quickly goes to pieces. Disaster after disaster piles up, forcing him into ever more surreal and absurdist scenarios in his reckless flight from certain death. The breathless pace is relentless for the first hour and a bit as Roger finds himself up over his head in shit (literally), driving like a madman down a country road in a tractor with a huge mastiff dog impaled on the forklift at the front, or crawling out of a car mangled by an articulated lorry having been saved by two of the fattest policeman you have ever seen acting as a meat-filled airbag sandwich. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they damned well do, and the dismantling of the prissy, pert Roger into a bloody, battered, shaven-headed, hollow-eyed wreck is exceptionally well done. Visceral it most certainly is: I found myself laughing at the bizareness of it all one minute and cringing and cowering in my seat at the horror of it the next – there’s one knife attack, in particular, that’ll have you crying mammy daddy.
Performances are very good but they are all largely supporting: Hennie is the movie’s core. Macody Lund is outrageously gorgeous, and while I was concerned that her character was the stereotypical ice queen, the shame and the love she eventually exhibits were wholly convincing. Coster-Waldau is seductively masculine, though he isn’t developed enough as a character to hold the villainy all on his own. Most of the rest are a collection of misfits, some of whom are reminiscent of the weirdos of Deliverance.
It’s not perfect, though. While the battering Roger takes is much more realistic than that dished out in the shite movie I saw earlier in the week, Roger’s survival of the car crash still stretches credibility. In addition, the corporate conspiracy which is supposedly at the centre of all these shenanigans isn’t clearly explicated. Finally, the tying up of loose ends Guy Ritchie-style is just too pat.
However, all in all, it’s another Viking crime success, and, especially in that first roller coaster eighty minutes or so, damned fine entertainment. There is talk of a Hollywood remake: while there’s no reason why that should be a bad thing, you just know it will be…